Sprigging illustration

Using Sprigs for New Lawns

Sprigging is a method of planting a new lawn where single grass plants at set intervals so that the grass can grow into the bare soil.

Sprigging can be accomplished mechanically or manually. It normally involves planting sprigs (stems or runners with 2 — 4 nodes, “joints”) in furrows that are 1" — 2" deep and 10" — 18" apart. Sprigs should be placed at 4" — 6" intervals within furrows. Shallower planting results in a more rapid establishment.

The ideal placement is leaving 1/4 of each sprig above ground after planting. Roll or tamp soil around sprigs after planting and keep the upper surface (1" — 2") moist by daily, light irrigations until the grass is well rooted and spreading. In large areas, it is best to sprig and water smaller sections at a time. Sprig warm-season turfgrasses at least 2 months before the first fall frost in order to allow enough time for spread and rooting.

There are several methods of planting sprigs

One method is to cut shallow furrows in the prepared planting area by using a push-plow or the edge of a hoe. Place the sprigs end-to-end or every 6" — 12" along the row and cover a part of each sprig with soil and firm by rolling or stepping on the furrow. The closer together the sprigs are planted, the faster the grass will cover the soil.

Mechanical Sprigger

Rows should be placed no more than 6" — 8" apart. A second method is to place the sprigs on the soil surface at the desired interval end-to-end, about 6" apart, and then press one end of the sprig into the soil with a notched stick or blunt piece of metal like a dull shovel. A portion of the sprig should be left above ground exposed to light. Each sprig should have some leaves, but a node will do if the stolon has no leaves.

Regardless of the planting method, each sprig should be tamped or rolled firmly into the soil. This will help keep the sprigs from drying out and dying. As with seeding, soil must be kept continually moist, not wet, until adequate rooting has occurred. Watering lightly once or twice daily will be required for several weeks after planting. Mulching can also be used in vegetative planting for moisture conservation and erosion control.

Another method of sprigging, which is used where rapid cover is needed, is stolonizing or broadcast sprigging. Sprigs are prepared by mechanical shredding or hand tearing of sod into individual sprigs, or purchased by the bushel (most common with bermudagrasses). The material is broadcast, like a mulch, over the area by hand. Sprigs are then cut into the soil with a light disc or covered with 1/2" of soil topdressing, rolled, and watered. This method provides very fast coverage.

Since sprigs are planted at a shallow depth, they are susceptible to drying out. Light, frequent waterings are necessary until roots become well established. This method is often used to plant bermudagrass golf greens and fairways.